July 4, 2007 The Pump Handle 0Comment

After a contractor was rescued from a collapsed construction trench in Desert Hot Springs, California, Eric Solvig of The Desert Sun reported on how common it is for trench work in California to violate safety guidelines – and for workers to be killed or injured as a result:

State officials issued more than 1,400 citations from 2002 to 2006 for trenches that violated excavation safety guidelines, failed to have proper bracing and put workers in danger.

Nationwide, about 40 to 50 people die in construction trench collapses each year, said George Kennedy, vice president of safety for the National Utility Contractors Association.

California recorded six deaths in 2005 alone. … In many cases, experts say workers aren’t following safety guidelines.

California regulations require trenches to be shored when they are more than five feet deep and workers will be inside them. Initial findings from Cal/OSHA indicate that the Desert Hot Springs trench that collapsed was 20 feet deep and lacked shoring.

In other news:

Associated Press: Older farmers are at greater risk than younger farmers of having a fatal accident on the job – and older farmers account for a growing percentage of all farmers.

Forbes: A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that levels of a potent carcinogen rise quickly in restaurant and bar workers exposed to secondhand smoke.

Occupational Hazards: Employees at the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Business Center have been exposed to numerous indoor air hazards.

Houston Chronicle: A report on a survey of 700 surgical residents, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals that about half of needlestick injuries suffered by surgical residents go unreported.

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